CHRIS COLEMAN is still perceived to be the manager Sunderland did well to bring in to replace Simon Grayson in November, even if he has not had the preferred impact.

Yes, Sunderland have won more matches under the former Wales manager (4) than what Grayson (1) did during his time in charge, and he has brought a more positive approach to a club mired in despondency for more than 18 months.

But the reality is that Sunderland, ahead of today’s trek to promotion-chasing Bristol City, remain deep in relegation trouble; just like they were when he took over 14 matches ago.

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Back to back defeats has left a two-point gap to safety and during his period in charge, Coleman has endured eight defeats; relegation form by any team’s standards.

It is widely accepted that Coleman has taken on a massive job, given he was never going to have money to spend in January. There's a depressive feeling on Wearside than has got most supporters fearing what next season could bring.

But the players are still enjoying working under Coleman and his methods, they hope, can still deliver a turnaround in fortunes and a climb to safety.

“The manager has had a very good impact on us all,” said Costa Rican defender Bryan Oviedo. “Everyone is happy with him and the club is happy with him.

“We are all 100 per cent with him. We need to stay together, everyone, the fans also, it’s great for us to have a great manager because this is not an easy moment. We can’t look to the past too much and we must focus on changing things as quickly as possible.

“Everyone is happy together at the moment, I can’t knock that. We train very hard, fight for every ball in training and maybe the results are not what we expect but that doesn’t tell everything because we are all happy together on the training ground. The results are not a reflection of how we work.”

The big problem facing Coleman is having to find a way to make a fragile squad stronger. Even when they tend to start matches promisingly a mistake or conceding a goal suddenly leads to heads dropping and, more often than not, a defeat.

Oviedo said: “It's difficult when we concede first. Many times in games when we concede first, we cannot react and that is a big problem. You can concede goals, but then you need to react straightaway.

“But against Ipswich we played very well for the first 30 minutes and created chances then when we conceded out of nothing, the team was completely different. We didn't show the character to react after that.

“It's difficult because when you play well and create chances without scoring, you know that there is always a chance the other team can score.

“It's not easy for a team to stay strong mentally, because many times this season we have started well and then been frustrated. We need to change that right now because there are only 16 games left. We know this is a difficult moment but we have to learn from the last game and make sure we are better in the next game.”

The arrival of Ashley Fletcher, Kazenga Lualua and Lee Camp on or around deadline day has at least given the other players a lift. To capitalise on that, though, Coleman and his men need positive results quickly or any boost will only be short term.

Oviedo said: “They have come in with fresh energy, it has helped us a lot. They have trained a few days with us, played one game, so I hope we have this full week together and hopefully we can show something different on Saturday.

“Last season, of course, was the first time I have been in such a difficult situation and this is the same this time. That was the first time at my previous clubs I have never been in a situation of fighting against relegation before. It's not easy.

“But the most important thing is that we have to believe in what we do. Personally, I am in a good moment mentally because I think we have a good squad with very good players. We can do this, but we need to start getting the results soon.”